Penguins' Kris Letang not believed to be on trading block
RALEIGH, N.C. — While his teammates were wrapping up morning skate Friday, injured defenseman Kris Letang was completing an off-ice workout in a nearby hallway.
There was no for-sale sign on his back.
Contrary to several recent reports, the Penguins are not believed to be shopping Letang for a possible trade, multiple sources confirmed.
Letang, 30, has been out since suffering a lower-body injury Dec. 23 against Anaheim. He has had an up-and-down season, ranking among the top 10 in the league in defenseman scoring but the bottom 10 in the league in defenseman plus-minus rating.
He is the third-longest tenured Penguins player behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. He has four years left on an eight-year contract with an average annual salary of $7.25 million.
Television analyst Nick Kypreos first reported the Penguins were shopping Letang on “Hockey Night in Canada” last Saturday.
Earlier this month in Las Vegas, general manager Jim Rutherford said he was considering making a move or series of moves to shake up the roster of his struggling team.
Letang and Chad Ruhwedel have since joined Justin Schultz on the injured list, and the Penguins secured a dramatic comeback win over Columbus on Wednesday night.
Those developments seemed to have cooled the GM's trade plans for now.
“We'll consider anything if we feel that we can make the team better, but at this point in time, we've got a bunch of inured players,” Rutherford said Thursday night on his radio show on 105.9 FM. “We've got some signs that we're coming out of this. So it's business as usual. It's not panic to think that we have to do something, but my job as it goes normally is that I talk to different GMs about different things. I'll continue to do that.”
Rutherford reiterated he would like to see his team improve its scoring depth.
“You have to see what's available,” he said. “You can always upgrade every position if something comes along. You just have to listen and see what names are out there. But if we could get more balance in scoring on the forward lines, that's going to help.
“Getting Schultz and Letang back so we get the puck to the forwards better and get that transition game going, that's going to help us. We'll get these guys back and see what comes along.”